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Talented cricketer talks of journey in the game amid hiccups along the way

By Barry Silah
Wednesday, June 17th, 2020
Maurice Ouma swings a shot in an international match against Canada.
In summary
    • Nicknamed Pagal by former international Bernard Odumbe due to his stubbornness and penchant for arguments.
    • Was born and raised in Government Quarters in Park Road where he quickly learned the trade of the game as at age nine.
    • Has had a glittering 14-year career as a senior player in the national team. He started out as a junior in 2000 after completion of his High School studies in Ofafa Jericho High School.
    • Maurice Ouma is an opening batsman who became the first-choice keeper later in his career.
    • He was called up from Kenya’s Under-19 team to make his debut in the 2003 Sharjah Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

He is nicknamed Pagal, which translates to a ‘mad’ person in Gujarati . He has no qualms about it given his rebellious streak.

Maurice Ouma, 36, played for the national cricket team for 14 years at senior level and enjoyed every bit of it.

However, as Pagal told this writer, 2016 is a year he quickly wants to forget. 

As a servant of the game over the years, it was something he could not comprehend let alone be prepared for.

It was early November 2016 at the Bowling Green Restaurant in Nairobi during a team dinner that he got the shocker. 

That came two days before the team was to go on tour in Australia for three weeks in a build up for World Cup qualifiers with a detour in Papua New Guinea for build-ups. 

“It was at this point that an official of Cricket Kenya (CK) came in and handed over 16 contract letters to our coaches then Thomas Odoyo and his assistant Peter ‘PJ’ Ongondo.

When I did not get mine I was shocked and embarrassed considering the work I had put in prior in the domestic season that included four centuries and leading run the board with 970 runs in that calendar year,” says Pagal who believes he was cut out at his prime.

He was considered an outspoken fellow that defended players’ rights and this was one thing CK Board could not stand. 

Political decision

“I was sacrificed and I had to live with that. However the painful bit was that I was at a prime age of 30 years and was in good shape so it had to be a political decision.

The argument that was being fronted about finding space for younger players in an important tournament was flimsy to me because there were some older players who were retained simply because they were silent,” says the player of Super Division giants Swamibapa.

It had dawned on him that selectors had taken sides and the CK board was manipulating the process to their bidding. 

“Once I failed to get clarity or audience from the to brass including the Chairlady, I knew I had been played.

The General Manager tried to appease me with a Development role for schools once I returned from the trip but still I felt hurt and abandoned.

This was pure victimization for my strong stand against abuse and misuse of players that I fronted.

I felt I could still serve my country for a further six or seven years” he adds with a tinge of bitterness.

Amidst the frustration he contacted the Swamibapa Management who stood with him and gave him employment plus a playing contract.

He only wanted to do what he loved and quickly forget the humiliation he had underwent. “For me it was like a new chapter because I got now to do other things and feed my family back home. 

His generosity

I thank the Director of Swami Hashad Khoda for his generosity because it gave me anew lease of life.

Because of him I went to England and played for Swamibapa London for the Middlesex league for three and a half months between 2017-2018 where I shone nice.

I also got to study as well and even got employment at NK Construction before business struggled later on,” concludes Pagal who now works at Starfield Sports Limited as Head of Cricket Coaches given his passion for working with the youth.

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